When Dana White made the criminal mistake of intimating that Conor McGregor represented the UK back in March, you have to think there was a bit of truth to what he was saying (in his mind at least). He laughed it off by saying it was a joke between him and McGregor but the reality of the situation is that, in the past year, the UFC's walking cash machine has done exactly what they wanted him to. He's broken the UK market.
He may have nothing to do with the country but he's close enough geographically and when he started talking you have to think Dana and co. saw the key to breaking the as yet largely untapped UK market. It's worked. Patriotism was enough to get us hooked over here but when you see the Daily Mail covering the fact that McGregor took a piss in a bush ahead of UFC 197, you know he's well and truly hit the big time in the UK as well.
British media and all the interest that comes along with that is incredibly valuable exposure for the UFC. The fact that it's an Irishman who's been able to tap into that is largely unimportant and extent to which McGregor has managed to carve out a niche for himself in the general British psyche is summed up by how much he's being covered by the BBC.
The bastion of British life and culture could be described as being staid and stuck in its ways. It may have taken a while but McGregor is very much on their radar now and it's fair to say that not everyone in the UK is delighted with his move into the mainstream.
Obviously not everyone in Ireland is delighted with McGregor mania but it seems to have moved on to the extent that the 'haters' for want of a better word, have been drowned out by the fans. The UK may have a bit to go in that regard.
After last night's confirmation of UFC 197, Conor McGregor was in the mood to kick things off with Dos Anjos by suggesting that he will 'behead' the Brazilian whom he calls the 'American Gringo'. BBC covered that angle this morning and the fact that it racked up significantly more retweets and likes than the vast majority of the Beeb's football and rugby stories is testament to just how much of an effect the featherweight champ has had.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) January 13, 2016
However, when it comes to McGregor, the hate inevitably followed and the BBC's followers were in critical mood this morning with the beheading reference drawing particular ire.
@BBCSport Shocking ISIS reference. To be expected from a lowlife like McGregor.
— John (@JohnnyEuroMan) January 13, 2016
@BBCSport sick of hearing about this twat.
— Craig Humphrey (@craig_humf3) January 13, 2016
— Argheffbee (@54bobb) January 13, 2016
@BBCSport 2 syllables? I'm impressed.
— Edward O'Brien (@EdoOB) January 13, 2016
@BBCSport who is he? What en earth is ufc?
— WhatYouTalkingAbout (@thenameswillis) January 13, 2016
@BBCSport Rather stupid thing to say in these difficult times
— Ken Wcislo (@bayviewdreamer) January 13, 2016
@BBCSport jihadi Con
— Kane (@_kane_h) January 13, 2016
@BBCSport what a scumbag comment!
— ian lewis (@oldpeculiar) January 13, 2016
@BBCSport what an utter cock...but majority of fighters all tend to be, so he's in good company...
— Swindonian (@SouthCoastRed) January 13, 2016
They were some of the more publishable comments and each to their own and all that but you have to think that McGregor and the UFC are absolutely loving that kind of reaction. He's made himself known to a market that the UFC was finding it difficult to break into. Even if it's out of hate, viewers tune in and everyone laughs all the way to the bank.